2013-02-28 / Community

Early education gets boost

New movement aims to give children ‘voice’

LANSING – The Michigan Sandbox Party is going local. State early childhood leaders at the annual Michigan Early Childhood Challenge summit announced that a new coalition of early childhood advocacy organizations will be working together in communities across Michigan to build and coordinate a unified movement aimed at securing effective policy and investment for the state’s youngest children.

“Children don’t have a vote so they need a voice, our voice,” said Holly Wingard, Sandbox Party director of Community Engagement. “This partnership is designed to provide a place where people and organizations from all walks of Michigan life can join together to celebrate and advocate for our state’s youngest children.”

The Sandbox Party has been a largely web-based effort since it was created by the Early Childhood Investment Corporation in 2010. Now with the coming together of the Investment Corporation, the Michigan Association of United Ways, the Michigan Head Start Association and the Michigan Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, each of which has a local network across Michigan, the Sandbox Party will establish advocacy beachheads in communities throughout the state.

“We mean it when we say: Every Voice. Every Child,” said Scott Dzurka, MAUW President and CEO.

“Supporters have been clear: it’s time to get serious about the future because Michigan’s future is in hospital nurseries and child care programs and preschool programs today. It’s time to get boots on the ground and create a symphony of voices that cannot be ignored.”

Over and beyond the local coalition building, the partnership includes a group of long-time state early childhood advocates including Michigan’s Children, HighScope Educational Research Foundation, Michigan Council for Maternal and Child Health, and the Michigan League for Public Policy that will advise and inform the efforts of the Sandbox members.

The partnership is still growing. “The Michigan Sandbox Party aims to be Michigan’s biggest voice for our smallest children. Nothing less than a million voices will do.”

The Michigan Sandbox Party is a nonpartisan movement providing an informed and unified voice on early childhood issues.

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